Y Combinator has filmed a video in which researchers Elizabeth Rhodes and Matt Krisiloff discuss the firm’s basic income pilot.

Y Combinator is a firm based in Silicon Valley that invests and coaches promising young startups, connecting them to potential investors. They have currently launched the first phase of their pilot in Oakland, California. (See the recent Stanford Panel for details) 

Elizabeth Rhodes, a PhD in Social Work and Political Science, is the Research Director for the Basic Income Pilot at Y Combinator’s Research arm, YC Research. Matt Krisiloff joined YC Research from Y Combinator where he had worked on Y Combinator Fellowship.

Rhodes begins the discussion by defining Basic Income as unconditional cash payments to individuals to ensure a minimum level of economic security.

Krisiloff explains the Basic Income Pilot was influenced by Y Combinator´s Open A.I. project. As the team began to see the possibilities in General Artificial Intelligence, they saw the implications on the traditional work environment and a need for a more robust safety net in the U.S.  to allow people to react to changes.

Rhodes gives a brief overview of Basic Income pilots to date, noting that no modern studies have been conducted in the U.S. since the 70´s. Rhodes explains that the current Y Combinator pilot is to test logistics, survey methods, recruitment, while simultaneously devising the research plan for a larger study. YC Research has pulled together a working group of 24 academics and policy people, as well as following guidelines laid out by the Institutional Review Board for research involving human subjects to ensure all ethical requirements are met.

The larger pilot will give unconditional cash transfers to a test group of individuals. Rhodes notes that past studies have focused on workforce participation, this study hopes to gain more holistic learning about the effects a basic income has on the individual’s- health, mental health, well-being, time use (family time, volunteering) and economic health.

Watch the full video to hear thoughts around possible outcomes in terms of future policy changes, welfare, unconditional cash transfers and possible effects on the economy.

Source Y Combinator, “Discussing Basic Income with Y Combinator Research,” YouTube, February 22, 2017.